Personal Finance 

How to Make Homemade Cleaning Products

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White VinegarHave you ever looked underneath your kitchen sink, or whoever you put your cleaning products, and marvel at all the bottles and containers you have there? I recently took a peek and went on a cleaning kick, trying to use as much of the stuff up as possible, and was amazed at how chemically some things smelled. My lovely wife is allergic to some artificial lemon scents so much of our stuff is absent any scent, which leaves our noses unprotected against the chemical smells.

And almost just as annoying was how many products we had. How is a glass cleaner different than a counter top spray? Do I really need all these products? I started to look online to see if there was a better way to do this and found a variety of recipes for all purpose cleaning products you can use in multiple scenarios. It was amazing how many products you can replace with the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Homemade Spray Cleaner Recipe

Vinegar appears to be the natural power cleaner superagent because it makes an appearance in many homemade cleaning product recipes regardless of the purpose. When you ferment ethanol using acetic acid bacteria, you create a liquid that is part acetic acid and water – that’s white vinegar. In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, vinegar consumes odor, rather than just covering it up.

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

A mix of 50% water and 50% white vinegar is a popular homemade recipe for a spray cleaner and it can be used to clean any surface. By cutting the acetic acid in the vinegar by half, it’s mild enough to clean most household surfaces. It will also dry without odor. You can use this on countertops, your range, backsplash, bathroom surfaces, tile and grout. If you have particular persistent soap scum or other accumulations, you can use straight white vinegar, without cutting it with water, and/or you can heat up the mixture until it’s warm and use it that way. If you use undiluted white vinegar, be sure to use it only on non-porous surfaces such as the ceramic toilet bowl or bathtub. It’s acidic so it can damage porous surfaces if left there.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

Why is the glass cleaner different than the earlier homemaade cleaner recipe? It’s because glass is clear and you need a fast drying agent that won’t leave spots or other marks on the glass. For that purpose, you will replace white vinegar with rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl, and then add just a tablespoon of white vinegar for cleaning purposes.

  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T white vinegar

Homemade Scrubbing Cleanser Recipe

Baking soda is popular for removing persistent stains because of its a mild abrasive and has natural deodorizing properties, one of the reasons people put it in their refrigerators. There isn’t much of a recipe in this case, just that most places advise that you sprinkle it on a sponge when you’re trying to scrub away stains. Many recipes for the homemade spray cleaner also include baking soda.

Homemade Air Fresheners

I never had air fresheners growing up and Febreze scares me – I have no idea what’s in that stuff. Unfortunately, there isn’t you can make that you can spray but you can take steps to reduce odors in your home. You can put dishes of baking soda or vinegar around the house, before company comes over, to help eliminate odors. You can simmer a pot of vinegar in water (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water) to kill cooking smells, like fish. You can use vinegar and water on cutting boards and knives to help take down the smell, as well as using fresh ground coffee. Lastly, plants can consume smells, as can herbs and spices.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

One of the most frequently used products in our home is toilet bowl cleaner and we typically rely on Comet. You can easily replace Comet by using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (see a trend?) – quarter cup of baking soda with 1 cup vinegar into the bowl. let it sit, then scrub and rinse.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is a common topic on the interwebs, how to make your own laundry detergent, so I won’t rehash it much here. It’s basically 1 bar of Fels-Naptha, half cup of Borax powder, and 1 cup of Washing soda.

Homemade Drain Unclogger

Finally, and this happens a lot, the one product I really wanted was a drain unclogger – like a “Drain O” minus the gross chemicals in a product like that. The best solution we found was to remove the stopper and clean out whatever you could, then follow up by pouring a half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by half cup of vinegar. The bubbling reaction can break down the clog and push it through. If that doesn’t work, do the same but block off the hole so the escaping gas has to push the gunk farther down. (then stop using bar soap at the sink, it has coagulants that creates the blockage problem in the first place)

The best part about all these recipes is that you’ve now made natural cleaning products without all the harsh, fancy named, chemicals that many of the commercial products use. All you really need now are a few spray bottles, containers, and ingredients for your very own homemade cleaning supplies.

(Photo: quirky)

{ 28 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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28 Responses to “How to Make Homemade Cleaning Products”

  1. Shorebreak says:

    White vinegar is the “holy grail” of cleaners. If your shower head is becoming clogged due to hard water, just soak it in white vinegar for the day. It will be just like new.

  2. Martha says:

    I was just reading about how I could use a can of Coca-cola to remove some of the stains in a toilet! After hearing that; and how it removes battery corrosion, it makes me think twice about ordering a Diet Coke for lunch!!

  3. Melinda says:

    Thanks you so much for the info. Def. going to use 90% of them Still like my laundry detergent!

  4. Nolita says:

    Thanks for these…..what about natural shampoos/conditioners?

    • MJB says:

      Depends on your hair type and color.

      I don’t know about home made shampoo but you can condition your hair with vegetable oil. If you have thick, course hair, you don’t have to wash it out (test that before you have to go out in public). Otherwise, apply it before washing and then wash it out.

      You can also toss a cup of apple cider vinegar in a bath. It does amazing things for dark hair and for skin. It is basically an astringent but I wouldn’t recommend using undiluted vinegar that way.

      Chamomile tea for blondes.

  5. martin says:

    Another use for the fabulous vinegar. Use straight vinegar on battery connections. cuts gook and rust away immediately and makes connections clean as a whistle

  6. Marina says:

    Thank you for sharing such helpful information.

  7. Matt says:

    Any idea how, or if at all, much money this could save?

    • Martha says:

      Vinegar is ~ $2.50 for a gallon here; where as a bottle of spray cleaner can run you $4… It can definitely add up over time. More importantly to me is that if I’m making my cleaners I know what is in them and how they can/may effect my pets and kids!

  8. Wilma says:

    Vinegar and baking soda are little miracles. You really don’t need all the fumes or those name brand products. A lot of people never use gloves to clean when using those products. Scary.

  9. Sarah in Alaska says:

    I read a blog about using vinegar and Dawn soap as a shower cleaner. Other readers said that the dawn was just a thickener so now I use a thick, hot vinegar and corn starch mixture to clean my shower.

  10. Ivanhoe Bell says:

    In these harsh and economic times, i find these ingredients pocket savings and can stretch your way of funding a lot longer. Thanks for such information.

  11. cvargo says:

    Does it have to be white vinegar? Could you use apple cider vinegar to get a little better fragrance?

    • Jim says:

      Hrm, I don’t see why not…

      • elloo says:

        For obvious reasons, I would stick to white vinegar if you are cleaning tile with white grout.

    • Shirley says:

      A granddaughter ‘in a panic’ brought me a pair of her new white jeans with a black felt tip marker stain on the back pocket. First I soaked it in cold water, and then rubbed it with a cut lemon and put them out in the sun. It took three days of reapplying the lemon juice and setting out in the sun, but the stain did come out!

    • Martha says:

      I’ve used both – and they both work 🙂

  12. Kenny says:

    We just returned from a ‘natural everything seminar’ and they were talking about everything being bad including:

    1. Toothpaste
    2. Soaps
    3. Cologne / Perfume
    4. Air Freshners
    5. Clorox
    6. Microwave(!)
    7. Cell phone on ear
    8. Hair Spray
    9. Shampoo / Conditioner
    10. Pesticides
    11. Coloring agents
    12. Sugar / Salt
    13. All forms of Meat
    14. Laser printers emitting ink-smell
    15. Lotions with artificial fragrance
    16. Etc

    So, in short, what you are saying is so 100% true, and instead of say ‘WHAT IS ALL BAD’, you are doing a GREAT JOB at saying “WHAT is it that we SHOULD be doing”.

    Thanks Jim.


  13. MJB says:

    I’ve relied on vinegar and baking soda to clean most of my life.

    Vinegar is a great degreaser also. It has antimicrobial properties as well. I know a child care provider whose surfaces were tested regularly for cleanliness. She continued to pass inspections with flying colors after switching from toxic products to vinegar for cleaning.

    I have plexiglass shower doors. Vinegar doesn’t seem to do a good job cleaning them. Does anyone have a suggestion?

  14. Shirley says:

    Here is some good information about just that. 🙂
    They use dish soap with the vinegar and also have info on covering scratches.

  15. Shirley says:

    Years ago our dentist advised using 6 parts baking soda to one part table salt instead of toothpaste. I just mix a batch and put a half cup of it in a labeled ziplock bag for each family member.

  16. Roberta Nesbit says:

    Thanks for the roundup of recipes for cleaners. Handy to have them all in the same place.


  17. Louise Malbon-Reddix says:

    Wow, I didnt know that baking soda had so many uses….

  18. DD from Duncan says:

    I use Plain Water to clean mirrors and dry them with a dry cotton towel. It eliminates streaks and it’s Cheap! I also use water to clean windows. (You are going to be Surprised!)
    Also REMEMBER Do Not Use Baking Soda on or around Batteries. It will neutralize the battery acid and render your car battery useless!!

    • Joe says:

      Baking Soda if used around batteries needs flushed with water aftwards. What Duncan probably meant is don’t let baking soda get INSIDE your battery. People have used it for years on terminals and battery pans.

  19. Myrna says:

    What is a mixture I can use outside instead of the Windex outdoor. Will the vinegar hurt my plants. I wash my windows on the outside using a hose with a spray and also wash the outside of our house once a year. ???

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